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The journeys of the Narrowboat Indigo Dream

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Archive for May, 2012

Boat Blog: Jubilee Rehearsal (1)

Posted by indigodream on 31 May, 2012

The pageant organisers have kept “like with like” boats – I think that’s a great idea!

Note: I’m a week behind – again! I’ll have caught up after this post though 😦

From 18th May – 24th May

Epic days involving cruising, Lou starting chemotherapy and rugby at Twickenham – we will catch up with those event after the jubilee!

Friday 25th May

We were due to attend a briefing meeting for the pageant rehearsal at 7pm at the Cruising Association this evening and had our usual breathless rush to get there. We’d had our usual doggie dramas – Lou’s chemotherapy in the morning (intensive therapy for 8 weeks) then Poppy appeared to have become incontinent overnight, so that we the second vet visit! Luckily Lou is doing well and Poppy just has an ageing bladder which can be controlled with medication (which is working brilliantly!).

So we got to the briefing with minutes to spare and were stunned by the number of people there – the room was jam-packed! There were 24 boats taking part in Saturday’s rehearsal with another two joining us in Brentford for the Sunday. The briefing was excellent, but I spent the time groaning in despair – Saturday’s cruise sounded awesome but I’d be staying at home! Lou’s chemotherapy regime involved introducing a new drug a week after the first – it’s in the form of a tablet that she has to take every other day and it had to be started on Saturday – although we can administer this ourselves, because it was her first dose, she had to kept under observation for several hours afterwards.

Luckily we had plenty of crew – Sarah and Andy joined us on Friday night and treated me to an excellent chinese meal as a belated birthday treat. I’d spend my birthday last week travelling to and from the dog oncologist – not much of a celebration really! They stayed over on the boat with Richard, while I trailed home to see the hounds. I don’t begrudge Lou the care but I was gutted not to be taking part in Saturday’s events!

Saturday 26th May

Richard, Andy and Sarah were joined bright and early by Neil and Kath from nb Herbie and Amy from nb Lucky Duck. It was Amy’s first time on Indigo Dream, and on the tideway – having followed her blog for a long time, it was a great pleasure to welcome her on board.

I’ll let the photos tell the story – Neil has also posted a great account here.

Our photos seem to end at the barrier – either there are more on the camera or Richard became too busy in the galley to take photos – the day wasn’t even halfway through when the photos stop – including passing the floating belfry and practising mooring to buoys –

I joined the crew at Brentford in the evening, expecting to find them full of euphoria, but I’d forgotten how tiring a full day on the tideway can be, add to that the relentless, energy-sapping sunshine and everyone seemed a little subdued. However a good meal and some beer at the Weir pub soon revived them and I got a flavour of the day. Needless to say, I was even more gutted that I’d missed it – though I’m happy to report that Lou did not have any reaction to her new chemotherapy drug. This meant I was able to leave all four hounds with Nanny Renia and enjoy the cruise on Sunday….

Photoblog:

Andrew Phasey – still cheerful despite the enormous amount of work that he’s had to do in order the ensure that the narrowboats are a creditable part of the pageant….

Jeremy, the senior lock-keeper at Limehouse, acknowledge friend to all narrowboaters and also smiling….

The crew of nb Scholar Gypsy doing some lockside planning at Limehouse…

Neil from nb Herbie – big smiles despite the early start…

Amy from nb Lucky Duck – more big smiles!

The ‘bend’ around the Isle of Dogs – the current sweeps passing boats toward the buoys – luckily Greygal has done this bit before and gave them a wide berth!

The Cutty Stark restored – doesn’t she look fine…

Neil looking a bit damp – you do get a bit of a splash on the front deck…

Classic view….

The new cable car crossing – they’re testing the gondolas at the moment – looks impressive against the blue sky…

The narrowboats look like fragments of flotsam and jetsam against the vast width of the Thames at St Margaret Ness…

The flood barrier at Barking Creek mouth – hard to believe you need a flood barrier when you see the creek down to mud at low tide…

The convoy on its way upstream – the river was a bit choppy around Barking…

The entrance to the Royal Docks looks almost derelict at low tide…

A demonstration of why a 360 degree lookout is so important….

The crew certainly tasted the sunshine – they were nicely grilled y the time I joined them in the evening!

Busy at the barrier….

Amy steering through the barrier…

Working on the cable car – you can add that to the list of “jobs I never want to do”….

I might be tempted to take a trip on the cable car – but only when they’ve worked out a better way of loading the cars 🙂

The crew….

The barrier at half mast…

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Boat Blog: What we should have been doing….

Posted by indigodream on 15 May, 2012

Sunday 13th May

Well, what we should have been doing is spending the weekend rehearsing a bit of formation narrowboating on the tidal Thames with a cohort of our fellow Jubilee-ers….

What we actually did is stay at home and potter around in the garden and generally saw to looked at our domestic chores.

Having said that, Richard did go up to the boat on Sunday to check the ropes and have a little potter around the engine. Indigo Dream was fine, but he was reluctant to single-hand downriver on red boards, although some of the boats moored on the other side had moved upstream towards Oxford. We found out later that they’d had help from a tug – click here for the tale of their trip – it’s a good read!

After this week’s somewhat lighter rainfall, the river levels have come down considerably, but the flow is still very strong. On Saturday, the Thames was on red boards for most of its length but encouragingly, on Sunday some areas were on yellow “stream decreasing” boards – not our section though! By Monday most of the river was on yellow boards – hurrah! We can only hope that it doesn’t rain too much next week, but the forecast is looking rather damp.

Honestly, we just need a dry week, ok, 5 days would do, just enough time for the river to come down to yellow boards so that we can do the 3-day dash to Teddington – once we’re on the tideway we’re home and dry, as it were (sorry couldn’t resist!).

I am so glad that we did the rehearsals last year – I’d feel really uncomfortable otherwise. We couldn’t do next weekend’s rehearsals anyway as we’re off to Twickenham for the Heineken Cup final; however we’re desperate to get back for the weekend after, when we’ll be practising our mid-river mooring manoeuvres. We have to moor to buoys, where we’ll wait for several hours while the jubilee ‘convoy’ is assembled. Mooring to buoys in a running tide is a move more familiar to yachtsmen than narrowboaters so we really don’t want to miss that!

Although we can’t cruise yet, we haven’t been idle in our preparations for the jubilee. Richard popped into the chandlery at the Thames and Kennet marina in Reading, where he got the usual friendly welcome. He was investigating anchor chains and ropes – I think he’s planning a separate post on the topic – weighing anchor options (sorry!) is a science in itself…

Of course, if we had been able to cruise this weekend, I would have had to stay at home anyway…..

Lou isn’t really well enough to be left with Nanny Renia and getting up and down the boat steps would be a real trial for her at the moment. Lou was holding her own on Saturday, but has been unwell since. The sound of her noisily forcing breath past what we now know is a malignant tumour goes right through me. She is eating well (provided the food is cut up very small and well moistened) and felt up to barking loudly and ferociously across the fence at next door’s cat on Saturday! She also made the best of the weekend’s sunshine, enjoying a warm snooze on her duvet outside. So, food, snoozing and barking at cats – by a greyhound’s standards, she still has quality of life.

We have an appointment with the dog oncologists on Thursday – that’s when we will find out whether there are treatment options and what they might involve. Because Lou has been in relatively poor health recently, we were swaying towards not treating the tumour and calling it a day in the very near future. However Lou’s regular vet says that some of her recent malaise might have been caused by the lymphoma, which, by its very nature, is likely to be present through her lymphatic system – it’s just happens that we’ve found it first in the throat. So he feels that some chemotherapy/radiotherapy might give greater benefits than just an improvement in her breathing/swallowing. We just have to wait, keep an open mind, and make sure that we make the right decision at the right time for the right reasons….

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Dog Blog: Poppy Puppy’s Perfectly Personal Page – Private!!

Posted by indigodream on 12 May, 2012

Saturday 12th May

Oh Ollie, how could you leave me, just for a comfy place to lie down….

I’m sooooo upset – my bestest boyfriend Ollie has deserted me – he’s joined the upstairs pack! He says it’s not me (of course!) – it’s him – he just loves the 13-tog feather and down duvet that he found on the floor up there.

I mean, I told him “what’s the point of a comfy bed if you don’t have ME by your side?!”

So he said “come upstairs then – the duvet’s big enough for two!”

What, me, do stairs! I don’t DO stairs – I mean, common dogs do stairs, NOT doing stairs is what being a pedigree greyhound is all about….

Well, I was heartbroken – my Ollie, spending all his time with the chavs (cavorting hounds above stairs)…….

But then again, Ollie is such a good boy – he never does naughty but nice stuff, like rummaging and barking and stealing food, and he always goes to bed when Mummy Sue tells him to, and he doesn’t dribble on Mummy Sue’s laptop when he wants some attention (not that I dribble, of course, I salivate), and he doesn’t chew all her hairbrushes – oh, a girl could get really bored with a boyfriend like that…

When Mummy Sue is sad or bored or happy or anything really, she has chocolate, so I thought “that’s what I need”.

But now I didn’t have my number one boyfriend to get me some – tragic…..

Ooooh, I really need a hero……

“Ty dahling, could you just get me that chocolate from the table?”

“Yurss” he said, and just stretched up to get it – he’s  so tall and athletic, Ollie could never have reached that far…

“Thanks dahling” I said and settled down to take off the silver paper – oooh, Lindt extra creamy, ooh I feel better already….

Never mind, I’ll look for another boyfriend….

“Can I ‘ave sum” said Ty

“No, silly, Lindt extra creamy is just for special girls, like ME! Why don’t you have that bit of cadbury’s dairy milk that Mummy Sue forgot to take with her in her lunch box – she probably meant for you to have it – I mean, look, it’s just there on the edge of the table, why else would it be there?”

“Hokay” said Ty

Ty’s the best!

When Mummy Sue came in I told her all about my heartbreak – I mean, there was only two little pieces of chocolate in the packet – of course I was heartbroken – that’s not enough for a girlie hound like me….

For some reason mummy Sue started waailing “Where MY chocolate? Waaaahhhhhhh”

Honestly, some hu-mums are just sooooo selfish….

Here’s my hero – Ooh Ty you’re so fit….

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Boat Blog: Rain stops play but not the fun….

Posted by indigodream on 9 May, 2012

Sunday 6th May

Wallingford – Sunday 6th May: Believe me, the river’s much better than it was – at least the back mooring bollards aren’t submerged any more!

We both went over to the boat today and were greatly relieved to see that the river levels had dropped substantially – Indigo Dream is no longer in danger of drifting off the mooring posts or onto the towpath – phew!

Richard was still keen to move the boat but although water levels have dropped the flow was still awesome (and still on red boards!). He thought it looked “marginal” – I told him he’d be utterly insane to risk it! The consensus was to leave her where she was and aim to cruise at the end of next week. Yellow “stream decreasing” boards are starting to emerge upstream – hopefully we’ll feel the benefit in Wallingford soon!

Of course, our cruising plans will depend almost entirely on what happens to Lou when we get her biopsy results next week. We may be calling on cruising friends for help if I need to stay at home to nurse her. She is holding her own at the moment – they managed to remove some of the tumour when they were taking the biopsy, so her breathing is a bit easier, though we have to be extremely careful with her food – she is hungry but can’t eat too much or too fast, so we’re having to hand-feed/closely supervise her meals, which are made up of well moistened, tiny tiny delicacies.

Colourful scenes at the cavalcade….

With our cruising plans scuppered, we decided we deserved a bit of fun and popped into the Little Venice Canal Cavalcade on the way home. It lifted our spirits to see the basin full of colourful narrowboats, many of whom we recognised from our travels. I was hoping to top up on my stock of patchwork trousers – they are perfect cruising attire, being very colourful,  totally eccentric and supplied with lots of useful pockets for carrying essentials along the towpath (on those rare occasions that I feel the need to operate a lock for show!). Unfortunately the usual stall wasn’t here this year, so I’ll have to patch my existing patchwork to get me through this season! We still enjoyed a browse though. We met Simon from nb Scholar Gypsy – he was psyching himself to take part in a boat-handling competition later in the afternoon. I wonder how he got on? I’ve always fancied having a go but could I stand the humiliation? 🙂

We saw many familiar boats but we realised afterwards that we’d missed nb Tortoise – moored in plain sight in the basin! It would have been lovely to catch up with Simon and Carrie. We did spot nb Doris Katia and popped in for a cup of tea with Andrew and Frances. Frances makes a very good cup of tea – a cuppa that’s made for you is always the best! We swapped tall tales and talked about the pageant – it’s scarily close now! However we’re likely to miss the Saturday rehearsal next week, though we still hope to join the flotilla at Brentford for the Sunday downstream rehearsal. We’re gutted – the Saturday trip would have been magnificent.

There were some colourful characters too!

Mind you, if we get back to London this weekend then we’ll be in place for the last rehearsal on 26th/27th – the more we learn about the event the more exciting it is. I’m very much looking forward to blogging the event – if all goes well, we will be getting a view from the water and from shore – Richard’s mum and godmother will be in one of the prime viewing spots (they were in London almost within touching distance of the royal coach during the coronation!); my cousin Denise is planning to join the fun in Battersea Park – what an event!

Note: It is now Wednesday 9th and we have had Lou’s biopsy results – they confirmed that she has a very unusual cancer – oral high grade lymphoma; it is not curable but it may be treatable to prolong her life – by maybe 9 – 12 months; without treatment we are down to weeks. We will meet with the oncologists next week to discuss her options but tough times and decisions ahead I fear.

Photoblog:

Flooded care park in Wallingford – we think that the water may be coming from an adjacent streamlet/drainage channel rather than from the main river but the river is mighty high below the bridge….

You can see the high water mark there – scary stuff….

Why Wallingford road bridge needs 19 arches!

The prefect footpath….for labradors! We saw one earlier who just didn’t want to get our of the water – brrrrr 🙂

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Dog Blog: Poppy Puppy’s Perfectly Personal Page – Private!!

Posted by indigodream on 7 May, 2012

Sunday 6th May

Me at the pub – I’ve had some belly pork and chips – I’m a happy hound!

Ooooh, dahlings, I’ve got news – my fabulous vet man says that I am  “in lovely condition, at last, and I’m a different dog to the one he met 9 weeks ago”

It’s taken me ages to persuade him that I’m beautiful. Mummy Sue has had to groom me, and feed me and take me to the vets and feed me some more and groom me – it’s taken, like, forever…..

Of course, this was the vet man that said “Wow Lou, you’ve got a magnificent rear end” – it’s not my fault if he likes fat-bottomed girls…

Anyway, to celebrate, Mummy Sue took me to the pub. I took number 1 boyfriend Ollie with me – I mean, Ty is very hunky, and he’s just the perfect partner for rugged country pursuits but I need more refined company for the pub….

I was a bit worried that mummy Sue was taking me to, like, a common pub, but it was a gastro-pub – ooh, gastro, like to do with food – oooh!

Mummy Sue put our nice beds down onto the pub floor and Ollie lay down straight away – he was very comfy but really he’s soooo naive – poor Ollie  just doesn’t know how to work the runway!

I stood right in the middle of the pub catwalk so that everyone who walked past had to give me a big fuss.

Everyone said I was lovely – “I know” I said and smiled my best smile and pranced a bit, which is cute….

Everyone said to Mummy Sue “you must bring Poppy back to the pub, she’s so lovely”  – mmmm – I think you should bring me back, Mummy Sue, I got some superior pork left-overs….

Oh Ollie, do make an effort, I know the bed looks comfy but you’ll never get extra fuss down there!

Ollie ate some chips – “eeeeuuuw” I said “chips! That’s a bit common….” but Ollie said I should try them and they were, like, delicious – I love chips, though Mummy Sue said I shouldn’t eat too many if I care about my figure…

“Phooey” I said “I’m so lucky, I can eat anything I like and I never put weight on”…..

“I know” sighed Mummy Sue “it’s really annoying…..”

I don’t know what she means….

Anyway, I’m a skinny catwalk model so I made bestest friends with a willowy model human who works with an airline – imagine – me, on an airline, with my cool shades and my accessories….

Except I haven’t got any accessories apart from my smart collar and my two coats – my new hu-friend said that was disgraceful, so she gave me a bling silver handbag all of my own and guess what, GUESS WHAT, the handbag was full of hot chikkin – my new bestest hu-friend had given me her dinner!!!!

I’ve decided that the pub is THE place for me – I want another silver handbag full of chikkin – it’s THE accessory – I must write to dogmopolitan magazine and let them know….

Ciao

xxx Poppy Puppy

Look at my new handbag – full of chikkin! Dahlings, you simply must get one!

The vet says that me and Lou are his bestest girls – “no wonder” said mummy Sue, checking her credit card bill!

Ty is soooo hunky, but really, he doesn’t know how to work the camera – not like ME!!!

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Boat/Dog Blog: Rain stops play…

Posted by indigodream on 5 May, 2012

Wallingford as was – Sunday 20th April

Saturday 28th April

We subscribe to the Environment Agency’s “Thames River Conditions” alerts – there a link here – so far the river has been quiet but last week we started to receive regular updates as the river gradually went to yellow boards (Caution stream increasing) then to red boards “caution strong stream”. With heavy rain forecast for the forseeable future, it looked pretty certain that we wouldn’t be cruising this weekend.

It was difficult for us to get back to the boat last Friday but we did get through to the proper moorings person to authorise another week’s mooring. The District Council was very helpful – especially as boats now needed to find places to moor up safely while the river did its work.

We did go up to the boat on Saturday to check the ropes and were quite surprised to find that the river levels had gone up by around 2 feet. What had been a substantial step down onto the back deck was now a small step over! The flow was impressive and I was glad that we were staying put. As we pottered about the boat, two narrowboats came upstream, toiling against the flow. They moored gratefully on the far bank, joining the little community of narrowboats riding out the storm in Wallingford.

We didn’t stay long, just enough to lengthen the ropes, tighten the knots and give our contact numbers to the neighbouring boats……

Wallingford on Saturday 28th April – the Thames is on yellow “stream increasing” boards at this point…

Sunday 29th April

If ever there was a day for staying in bed with the duvet over our heads this was it – horizontal rain and apocalyptic winds – the hounds were happy to join in with the air of indolence, though they weren’t troubled by apprehensions about what was happening to the boat!

Late afternoon we got a phonecall from Ben, moored just behind us. He reported that the river had come up another 18 inches and was over the towpath. He’d slackened our ropes but he was concerned that Indigo Dream’s bow might float over the towpath – not a problem unless she was left high and dry when river levels fall. Richard had a chat with the local lock-keepers – our section was now on red boards but Cleeve Lock, downstream, reported a much smaller rise in river levels than we’d seen at Wallingford. They reasoned that this was because the multi-arched bridge at Wallingford holds the flow and causes a bulge of water upstream. Of course, I’d have thought this was fascinating if we hadn’t been moored on that ‘bulge’.

Richard hopped in the car to check – he, and the boat behind, reckoned she’d be ok, but we just had to be sure. He was glad that he went. Indigo Dream was in no danger but the bow section was an island – with river on one side and flooded towpath on the other. Luckily the towpath at the stern must have been a little higher and wasn’t flooded so he could get on board, check the inside and get access to the front ropes. He adjusted the ropes and added another to ensure that Indigo Dream could not float over the towpath – there are stout posts set in the bank to prevent this from happening but you have to get your boat position just right so that the bow/stern can’t swing in.

Wallingford on Sunday 29th April – at this point we started to adjust our ropes in earnest…..

Monday 30th April

I had planned to go up to the boat this afternoon but everything became immensely complicated by the breakdown of my car – remember when my printer stopped working because of a mouse nest in the paper tray? Well, my car broke down because a rat has moved into the engine and eaten the wiring! With my car in for repairs (£600 worth!!!!!), I borrowed Richard’s car…and got a puncture…and found that his spare tyre was flat…in a spot with no phone signal…..on a narrow road with no pavements….and with four hounds on board…..on a day too hot to leave them in the car while I went for help -WAAAAAHHHH!!!!

Luckily I know the road very well and anxiously walked the four hounds (running through the narrows) the mile or so to the local veterinary hospital, who I was sure would offer us shelter and help. They were magnificent – they gave the hounds (and me ) some much needed water, let me use their phone and gave the dogs a huge duvet to lie on while we were waiting for Richard to come an rescue us (with a hammer to fix the spare). I was so very grateful -Lou is not well (again) and Ollie has been in pain with his muscles, so they really needed to lie down after their forced march along the hard tarmac.

Honestly, you couldn’t make this stuff up…..

Wallingford on Tuesday May 1st – the river has risen another 10 inches since then – some of the moorers behind us are already extending those posts to stop their boats from drifting over the towpath. In total we reckon that the river has risen by FOUR FEET in just 10 days….

Tuesday 1st May

We had another phonecall from our boating neighbour Ben – the river had come up shockingly and our ropes needed more attention than he could give them. Richard had to get the train home to get his car from me so that he could give me a lift to the station to get my car from the garage while he went to the boat at Wallingford….

In the meantime, I spoke to the local lock-keepers at Cleeve lock (downstream) and Benson lock (upstream) to see if there was any merit in our moving to their lock moorings. Sadly their moorings were full of boats desperate to get off the navigation; the moorings at Goring lock (further downstream) aren’t much better off than Wallingford (the ones below the lock are flooded) and the Benson lock-keeper reckoned that if we tried to turn downsteam the flow would slam us sideways into the bridge. Ok, I guess we’ll stay where we are then!

I did ask who we should ring if we thought the boat was in trouble – “no-one” was the opinion – apparently the Environment Agency won’t help boats not to sink (too risky) but we could ring the emergency services if we thought our lives were in danger. To be honest, I’m quite glad that we’re not on board – I’m immensely grateful that the dogs are not on there -that would be a recipe for disaster!

Richard texted me some truly alarming photos – the towpath is now totally flooded and Indigo Dream is an island. He had to roll up his trousers and wade out bare foot to the boat in order to adjust the ropes; now he tells me that he lost his footing and almost took a tumble – when I said “lucky you didn’t fall into the flow”, he said it was a close-run thing. Worse thing apparently was stinging nettles underwater …

On top of this, Lou is really unwell today – she is seemingly in disabling pain but we (and the vet) haven’t been able to pin down exactly what’s causing it – could be exhaustion from yesterday’s adventures or something completely different – if she doesn’t perk up overnight she’ll go in for tests tomorrow.

I love river cruising and Indigo Dream has been designed with rivers in mind; but I’ve always said that you have to treat them with respect or they’ll turn around and metaphorically bite you on the bum!

Having said that, the Thames is just doing the job ordained by fate and geology, which is carting immense amounts of water from it’s vast catchment area towards the brimming sea…..

Our boating neighbour, Ben – he has been fantastic, we’d have struggled without his help. Zoom on to the bridge – the arches are starting to disappear!

Friday 4th May

Ok, the good news is that Indigo Dream is still afloat, though the river levels have come up yet again and are now halfway up the posts that are meant to prevent moored boats from floating overland. We’ve been watching the weather forecasts and EA river bulletins with a great deal of anxiety but sadly we’re in a position where we have few attractive alternatives.

The mooring itself is now well under water, making it difficult to get to the boat and keep the ropes flexible enough to allow Indigo Dream to rise with the river but tight enough to prevent her from drifting away! If the river rises much more then we’ll need some DIY to add extra height to the mooring posts – that’s what the boat behind us has done. A local building site has also helped out with scaffold poles and the Coumcil came out to install flood poles on the other bank

The other option is to see if we can get back to the mooring upstream of Goring Lock – this means cruising a few miles downstream on red boards. Of course, it’s not just the flow (there’s plenty of that on the tideway), it’s the debris being swept downriver, the limited width/headroom at some of the bridges and the lack of easily accessible help (on the tideway you have Thames VTS, other river traffic, lifeboats and police boats, and, of course, the VHF radio so that you can let people know you’re in trouble). (Sue watches disaster movies).

I think it’s a difficult choice, but Richard is up for the excitement of a white knuckle ride downriver…

But whatever happen to the boat this weekend, I won’t be part of it. Lou became very ill indeed on Wednesday and subsequent investigations (involving a 2-night stay at the royal vet college hospital in Potters Bar) have shown that she has a large tumour in the back of her throat. He prognosis depends entirely on what type of tumour it is – we should get the biopsy results on Tuesday.

In the meantime she is at home where she belongs, but is in need of a lot of TLC. She is having difficulty swallowing and is very reluctant to eat – she needs to be hand-fed little bits of soft food no more than around 3mm across and we need to make sure that she gets enough to drink. They had to pull her already painful joints around to get her into position in the CT scanner – this has left her in extreme joint/muscle pain which is making her reluctant to get up to drink etc.

There is so much to fret about this week that I can’t manage it all so I have delegated worrying about the boat to Richard and I’ll keep all my worry for Lou (leaving some to spare for the other hounds!)….

Saturday 5th May

We had been watching the downstream levels at Benson Lock via the Environment Agency’s web site, they said that levels had dropped by 200mm so Richard went up to the boat this morning with the intention of moving downstream to Sonning or perhaps further. First bad sign was finding that the car park near the moorings was flooded, next bad sign was that water was still a few inches higher then it had been on Tuesday, the final straw was that the water was running as fast as Richard could walk along the bank, well walk until he did not notice where he was walking and came to an abrupt halt. Verdict for today: Lets see how water levels are tomorrow!

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Boat Blog: Micro-odyssey Day 5

Posted by indigodream on 4 May, 2012

Sunday 22nd April

Note: Still over a week behind but catching up!

This doesn’t surprise me at all – well worth a visit!

It’s been a busy few weeks and by Friday night we realised that we had reached the end of our tethers, tanks on empty, in other words, totally knackered!

So on Saturday we decided to stay at home and have an undemanding potter around – the lockie at Goring was very obliging when we rang to request an extra night’s mooring. It’s nice being on the lock moorings – our boat is not the lockie’s responsibility, but it’s good to know that the mooring is secure and that there’s someone to keep an eye out for any problems.

But on Sunday we thought we should move – we played a familiar game – I didn’t want to be the one to suggest that we didn’t move, so I was hoping that Richard would say “let’s leave the boat where she is for another week” (as it turns out this would have been a great idea but more on that next time!). In the meantime, Richard had hoped that I would say “lets not go”.

So it was that we went to the boat, and I was glad that we did. I had forgotten how lovely it is at Goring lock, surrounded by a picture-postcard village and a scenic weir, all against the great green backdrop of the surrounding hills. Indigo Dream had been fine on her moorings – we paid the lockie for the extra night, got rid of our rubbish (useful skips under the bridge) and set off. We came out just behind a hire boat that had come up the lock while we were getting ready.

Graceful road bridge just downstream of Goring lock….

We had decided to leave the dogs with “Nanny Renia” today – it’s been an intense few weeks with Poppy and Lou being so unwell, but with both now on the mend (spoke too soon as it happens but that’s for another day) I wanted a little respite (though I did feel a bit guilty about it because I don’t begrudge their care one little bit).

The river was quiet and beautiful – it was a lovely day, although the wind was chilly at times, the sunshine was warm in the shelter. We soon got to Cleeve lock, which we shared with the hirers – they are experienced boaters who aspire to own their own narrowboat. They took a fancy to Indigo Dream, commenting that she would be the ideal boat for them…..

They were stopping at the Beetle And Wedge, just upstream of the lock, to have lunch and pick up more crew. We were tempted to stop there for lunch as well, but there was only one mooring spot and it seemed mean take it from them (we were ahead of them by this point). We would have been interested in hearing about their boating plans, especially if they’d involved buying Indigo Dream at a ridiculously inflated price 😀

Not that Indigo Dream is on the market!

We carried on past Brunel’s magnificent bridge and enjoyed the lush scenery. Apparently this is prime crime fiction territory – Agatha Christie lived hereabouts and there are several “Midsomer Murders” (the TV series) locations around here. I wish we’d known – the county of Midsomer is famous for its high body count and inventive murder weapons – would we be safe? 🙂

The view over the weir – I love this spot….

We had the usual debate about how far to travel – we’d only been on the water for an hour and half but we were already looking for mooring spots – very out-of-character! We rang ahead to Benson Lock, but their visitor moorings were full so we stopped off on the left-hand side moorings after Wallingford Bridge to have lunch and contemplate our next move. The moorings here are 24-hour and cost £5 a night for overnight stays; but the notices do say that you can make arrangements for longer stays with the town council.

The moorings on the right bank are owned by the district council, so I wandered across (on foot) to try to get some more information. While I was doing that, a cruiser left the district council moorings, leaving a nice Indigo Dream sized space into which Richard quickly moved. The moorings on the left bank at Wallingford flank a council outdoor swimming pool, campsite and car park, but the whole complex was shut and is not due to open until May. However there was a board with a phone number for the Abbey Sports Centre – the staff there were exceptionally helpful, even though they weren’t familiar with the mooring procedures. The authorised a 6-day mooring for us and we arranged to pay them next Friday.

With our mooring sorted, we settled down to some DIY – I don’t feel that I’ve really “de-winterised” the boat yet – the cupboards need sorting and the whole boat needs a good spring clean. In the meantime Richard fitted the fixture for our new flagpole and sorted the engine. We only pottered around for an hour or so – we didn’t want to be too late home and we’re over an hour’s drive away now. I decided to take most of the dog beds home for washing, but I left the task of sorting the human bedding for next time.

We tied the boat relatively loosely with springs, in case the river should rise, but we were happy to leave her in Wallingford for 6 days – we figured that we’d soon be back….

Photoblog:

The view upstream from Goring lock with Indigo Dream snug and safe on the visitor mooring.

I really like the idea of a boathouse (this is a fine example) but at Wallingford the river’s since risen about 4′ (in a fortnight) – how do these boathouses manage??

View back towards Goring lock…

Approaching Cleeve lock…

The Leatherne Bottle – riverside restaurant – it looks lovely – how come we’ve never stopped there??

The river is so rural here that the filling station and road looked quite out of their place and time!

We weren’t sure what this ‘notch’ in the riverbank is for – you certainly don’t need a winding hole here 🙂

Very smart mooring pontoon (private I believe) – wish we were moored there now!

Oxford University Boat Club – a far cry from the average boat club ‘sheds’ that you see along the river!

Approaching the multi-arched bridge at Wallingford – remember these river levels – they don’t look the same today 😦

A view of the many arches (19 I think) at Wallingford…

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